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12:09 AM on 06.04.2009

[shortblog] Ubisoft games + 8GB Flash drive at

I'm sure plenty of Dtoiders are familiar with already. They occasionally have an awesome video game related shirt for sale, or a nice gaming mouse or a blender. But today's woot is pretty cool- a 8GB USB Flash Drive, preloaded with an Ubisoft game, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Lockdown, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, or Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII. I can't vouch for the quality of any of these titles, or the logistics of playing them off the flash drive, but It's pretty cool, and if you're in the market for a flash drive and have a burning desire to get a cool camouflage pattern on it, you could do worse.   read

12:18 PM on 06.12.2008

(spoiler-less) Metal Gear Solid thoughts. Also, birthday.

My bank account is $547 lighter, and there is a giant black shiny thing on a milk crate by my tv. My birthday present to myself (how often does one of your favorite games come out on your birthday) was the PS3 MGS bundle, and so far (about 3-4 hours into it), I am not impressed.

Firstly, is anybody else pissed that the menu buttons have abandoned the traditional (in previous games) scheme? X is now accept, and O is go back, just like every other game in the damn world. And you can't do anything (as far as I can tell) interesting with the title screen. And you don't even call anybody to save! (Are these spoilers? It's not anything plot related, but it is game information some people may not know. Whatever.)

Gameplay-wise, it's sort of hard to read all the tiny, fancy fonts on a regular old SDTV. Maybe that's why I've been seen so much. But it seems problematic that the radar remains abandoned like from MGS3, but the areas are more like the narrow corridors that necessitated it from 1 and 2.

And the plot is nothing to write home about yet. (my writing this from home notwithstanding) I don't feel any connection to PMCs, "war economy", or the other topics mentioned 4 times every cutscene.

I remember reading somewhere that Kojima explained how MGS1 dealt with the zeitgeist, the cultural climate of the 1980s, looking back when it was released. MGS2 tackled the modern (early 21th century) mindset more, dealing with present day. MGS4 deals with the future, so maybe it will resonate more 10 years down the line when the world really operates like the game postulates. Or, maybe I am on the cusp of everything making sense- it definitely seems like I am barely started so far.   read

10:15 PM on 05.13.2008

In defense of Nuts and Bolts.

Ever since Microsoft bought Rareware in 2002, fans of the development company have been waiting patiently for their killer app to make its way to the Xbox. After a long wait, seemingly official details have surfaced over the newest incarnation of everyone's favorite bear and bird duo. The response has been overwhelming confusion.

It is understandable, the feeling of alienation and fear over the apparent sea change Banjo-Kazooie has made from charming, subversive Super Mario 64-esque collectathon to... whatever it is now. But, this change is not as big or unexpected as it might seem, if you look at some important factors.

It is ten years after Banjo-Kazooie was released, and the gaming world is a different beast then it was back then. The original Banjo-Kazooie came into a world when we still enjoyed the 3d action/adventure/platformer/collectathon. Crash Bandicoot 3 came out in 1998, Spyro came out in 1998, Blasto came out in 1998.

These were the games we played, because that's what we had to play. Nowadays, people have come to realize that the endless collection of these games was a poor excuse for length. (In a given level of Banjo-Kazooie, you had to collect 100 notes, 10 Jiggys, 6 Jingos, as well as any number of skulls for Mumbo Jumbo, in addition to maintaining your egg and feather supply.) A modern game could not get away with this, so a straightforward, same pattern Banjo-Kazooie would be out of the question.

Rare is well aware of this change, when their last two revamps of Nintento standbys for the Xbox (Perfect Dark:Zero and Conker: Live & Reloaded) received lukewarm reception. Neither had made big strides in moving forward in their design, and both suffered for it. Since Banjo-Kazooie is arguably Rare's biggest series, they do not want it to fall to the same "meh" fate. So, they followed the trend. And what trend is that?

The collecathon platformer action adventures faded with the new breed of PS2 platformers, Jak and Daxter as well as Ratchet and Clank. While both still had collecting as one of the primary foci, Ratchet and Clank used that as means to facilitate the weaponry in their games, and Jak and Daxter abandoned the previous generation's "kiddie" platformer games by the second entry in the series, finally by the third one turning into a platformer/racer/shooter.

Rare had already "matured" one of its series, so the odds of Banjo chomping a cigar and mowing down Gruntilda was pretty low. But, it is undoubtedly a descendant of the Jak and Daxter school of platform, itself a reaction to the orginal Banjo-Kazooie. While Nuts and Bolts may not be as fun as fans nostalgia of games past, it is perfectly understandable to leverage the series' natural tendency to collect every possible item in a world, and give it an actual application. (building vehicles)

And the "overly busy graphics"?

Did anybody not see that one coming?   read

8:43 PM on 05.12.2008

! minus 1 month- Metal Gear Solid 4.

June 12th is an amazing day.

1898- The Philippines declare their independence from Spain.
1929- Anne Frank is born.
1970- Pittsburg Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis throws a no-hitter against the San Diego Pirates while under the influence of LSD.
1988- I am born.
2008- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots comes out.

That's a pretty kick-ass birthday present, if I may gloat.

Anyway, the point of this post is not only to pat myself on the back for having one of my favorite games come out on my birthday (maybe Anne Frank would've liked it too). Does anybody have any info about pre-orders for the MGS PS3 bundle? Last I checked, Gamestop was not taking orders, and I don't really want to camp out for it (not that I wouldn't). Also, are the rumors true, and the gun-metal special edition PS3 is coming out here, too? Any help is greatly appreciated, so I can spend my birthday in style- sitting by myself, playing a video game.   read

10:27 PM on 04.06.2008

Not my Turning Point gaming rig

Toshiba Qosmio E15-AV101
It's a decent computer, as far as gaming goes.

Runs ZSNES just fine.

Downloaded Steam, only for Audiosurf. If it was a bit better, I'd be running TF2, but for the time being I'll stick with the 360 for my Orange Box needs.

An unimpressive, if functional computer
Or is it?

That little baby plugs into the back, and lets me use the computer as a decent sized LCD screen.

Which means

Portable gaming, anywhere there are two free outlets.

computer + Wii= instant party.   read

10:33 PM on 01.16.2008

Cloverfield review *minimal spoilers*

You know if you want to see this movie or not already.
Plus reviews are stupid to begin with.
But anyway.

Cloverfield was a fantastic ride, incredibly tense...and far too short.

The camera style was occasionally really annoying (mostly when people were running), but it succeeded in putting you in the movie.

I could not sympathize with any of the characters, but that may not be the fault of the movie. Still- Trying to meet up with people is one thing, but to leave a phone message that is just you sobbing for a while- that's just frustrating.

Yes you see the monster.
No, there is no explanation- I couldn't really spoil the movie if I tried.
There is no ending per se.
Not even anything cool after the credits.
I was expecting more hidden crap, but it seems like the model is shifting to really hard to find stuff, hidden crap that requires screencap capabilities.

All in all, I think War of the Worlds was a better ride, but Cloverfield is the first time in a movie I have actually wanted to scream. Not like horror movie, pop out of a closet scream, but "Oh my god, this is so ridiculous" scream.

All in all, I recommend it. Hell of a trip.   read

3:21 PM on 01.11.2008

On Pikmin, FPSs, and resource management.

Like everyone should be, I am practically giddy with excitement for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It comes in waves, the rabid anticipation- the path of which can usually be tied to the quality of the Dojo updates. With the announcement of Captain Olimar Wednesday, and his Special Moves Friday, this anticipation reached a fevered pitch. It is not just the potential to beat the crap out of Pikachu (hmm. Pikachu, Pokemon, Pikmin...there's a theory to be had there)with another character- Olimar and the Pikmin introduce a concept that (to my admittedly scant knowledge) has never been introduced, or effectively implemented in fighting games- resource management. (Health and time necessary to execute moves excluded- those are too ubiquitous to considered a special feature in fighting games) In Brawl, Olimar's effectives depends almost entirely on having a ready stock of Pikmin at his disposal. Samus never has to refill her missile stock, Link never pauses to fell a tree and rig up some fletching to fill his arrow quiver. The nearest analogy that could be made is Ice Climbers, perhaps...if you could control Nana, and pick extras out of the ground...okay, there is no good analogy. I have 0 idea what to expect, which is why this gets me squealing like a college-age guy should never do.

What games do use the effective management of a resource as an essential gameplay aspect? Being a console gamer, I cannot say RTSs, but that's probably the best example. As my roommate is barreling through Halo 3, I will stick with first person shooters, and the notion of ammunition as a resource. People often complain when ammo is too scarce in an FPS, but I think it adds a much needed tension that is otherwise lost. Half-Life 2 lost much of its atmospheric charm when my brother stumbled upon an infinite box of rockets for use against any of the giant helicopter/bug/alien things. (Let's not even get into the whole "reload without losing the rest of the expelled clip" issue that was only tackled in Gun) Halo never has a situation where you are not in the immediate vicinity of 20 errant weapons.

So why have ammo at all? Why reload? Is it to achieve a feeling realism, or at least a semblance thereof? Reality amidst infinite ammo supply crates, amidst distant futures of various distances? I understand the need for Medal of Honor, but by the year 2552, bullets cannot be automatically loaded, or teleported in, or something?

Anyway, I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. Old habits die a slow painful death, or at least they do when you don't have enough ammo to finish them in one go.   read

11:41 AM on 01.07.2008

Why do we play video games?

Over Christmas break, I was playing hanging out with people, playing games, spreading holiday cheer etc. etc. My friend Sam's 360 bricked up, so fearing actual social interaction, I brought my Wii over for Guitar Hero, WarioWare, Bomberman, and Wii Sports action. Sam, who kicks ass at FPSs, was not pleased to discover that he got his ass kicked, pretty regularly, at almost all of the previously mentioned games. This prompted him to dismiss the Wii as being a solely multiplayer system, without any games of depth. Having already finished Super Mario Galaxy, and finding Zac & Wiki profoundly annoying (Sound effects do not a fun game make), I sympathized with this notion, although I really didn't want to. Equally strange was the notion that it didn't bug me, just bringing out the Wii at parties, having a good old time trying to figure out what eyebrows to use, and seeing what girls' Miis look like with mustaches.

To avoid branching this post to every conceivable conversation about video games, I will stick with this- why play them? For fun, yes. But is it just to waste time? How does escapism work into it? Are video games nothing more than more empathizable (made up word count - 1) movies? My favorite games have been fairly narrative endeavors (Zelda, Metal Gear Solid), but just as often I will default to playing one of the innumerable Tetris clones on Facebook.
Of the people I play with now, most seem to play to pass the time, and also for the potential to do "sweet shit" (their words)

Why do you play video games?   read

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